• Moving to one terminal per big city - wise?

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  • 155 posts
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 11
  by Tadman
 
One of the clear goals of Amtrak, and one that probably made sense at the time, was to move all services in big cities to one terminal. All of NYC moved to NYP. All of Chicago moved to CUS. Pre-2000, it wasn't a bad idea, as the common wisdom was that trains were an anachronism and on the way out. It was how grandma went.

Today, new starts like Rockford, Quad Cities, and Lehigh Valley are hampered by the need to get from one legacy route to another legacy terminal. How will a Rock Island train go from the Rock over to Union Station? How will an Allentown train get to NYP? it complicates planning and funding. It also requires more than one class 1 to be on board with new plans, which makes it orders of magnitude harder to start up.

You also have current corridor services like downstate Illinois trains making convoluted moves over connectors and adding 20-30 minutes that is valuable to regional travelers.

Perhaps it's time to face it that this policy of one city, one terminal is outdated. It would be easier to start new services by being a tenant at a Metra or NJT station that is a logical terminus. It would improve ridership on IC-legacy trains to terminate at Randolph street. Union Station and NYP are at capacity anyway. We've also seen significant success with the Downeaster going to BON. Imagine the joke of a train that would be if they had tried to make BOS work. Another hour ride time?

And then there's the comparison to Europe and Japan (and now China) we love to make. Most world cities have many stations. Paris, London, Barcelona, Tokyo, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Istanbul.

People lament that it wasn't possible for a human to go coast-to-coast on a train, but a hog could. The same is true in Europe, perhaps worse. But hogs get slaughtered, so perhaps we shouldn't be trying to emulate a hog anyway...
  by SRich
 
The idea is indeed out-dated, In every large city there are multiple trainstation. In London even has 6 or 8 major train stations. So yes the one terminal/station with in a city is outdated (only execption is for LD-services)
  by Red Wing
 
Connections, connections, connections. I am not against multiple terminals (I'm from Boston). But someone be it Amtrak, the Local transit organization, the city, someone should make it seamlessly for me to get from 1 station to another.

Best idea Allow for connections from say the Downeaster to a Regional. In that connection a ticket for a car, bus, helicopter something to connect me.
Good for Amtrak they would know how many people beforehand needs the connection so they can size the vehicle to the demand.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Red Wing wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:10 pm Good for Amtrak they would know how many people beforehand needs the connection so they can size the vehicle to the demand.
Hello Parmelee

Youngsters around here, don't get it? Those over at Mr. Benton's Rail Travel Forum do:

viewtopic.php?f=155&t=6350
  by Pensyfan19
 
I would say depends on the city and how frequent service there is.

One idea I have for something like this is for larger cities, such as Chicago, to use one terminal for LD trains and another for regional routes.

Another thing too is that this "terminal" has to be located within the actual town/city and have a considerable amount of tracks and platforms o hold frequent service rather than being located on the outskirts of town and only having one track, such as Detroit
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
Harrisburg local service was consolidated at 30th Street in 1988, after based out of Suburban. This finished off the Metroliners in self-propelled electric service. A legacy of this remains today with Amtrak tickets or receipts
valid on SEPTA between Center City and 30 Street.

Imagine New York before the 1960s: two Manhattan terminals (NYP and NYG) and several terminals on the Hudson waterfront: HOB (Lackawanna), Pavonia (Erie/NYSW), Communipaw (CRRNJ/B&O/RDG), Exchange Place (PRR).
Much more complicated than Chicago, thanks to the Hudson River.

There was a 19th century plan to build a bridge around 59th Street and have a Union Station in Midtown.
  by mtuandrew
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 2:19 pmAnother thing too is that this "terminal" has to be located within the actual town/city and have a considerable amount of tracks and platforms o hold frequent service rather than being located on the outskirts of town and only having one track, such as Detroit
I don’t have much to say about the facility, but Detroit New Center Station is very much within the City of Detroit! It’s immediately next to one of the largest universities in the state and an arts & entertainment district.
  by justalurker66
 
Most routes out of Chicago are shorter versions of long distance trains. The runs to Quincy diverge at Galesburg. The Michigan trains do not have long distant versions but they can easily get to CUS. The LD trains provide one more frequency to the route.

Yes, the City of New Orleans and it's regional version suffer from the loss of Central Station and the solution (Grand Crossing) is expensive. But are you suggesting the Carbondale trains run in to Milliennium Station? Or a new station at Van Buren St to keep the diesels in open air? Or terminate just south of McCormick Place just to cut 20-30 minutes off the schedule (and run deadhead to CUS)? The cost of new facilities on the CN-IC would go a long way to building Grand Crossing.

Yes, there needs to be more respect for Amtrak and the ability for them to get trackage rights via any railroad that had legacy service assumed by the Amtrak system. The Cardinal route in to Chicago is far from perfect but where is the legacy route? Removed or downgraded to the point where it is almost a joke to consider using it.

I don't believe the answer is multiple terminals. There may be US cities where second or third terminals make sense. While not perfect, CUS is workable.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
justalurker66 wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:12 pm There may be US cities where second or third terminals make sense.
Some might recall the "Super-express" Metroliners aimed at the Wall Street crowd in the late 80s. A modern
version of the "Wall Street special" could be a single round trip to HOB, layover and return south in the evening
PM.

North Philadelphia seems to be a "redundant" second station in the city.

It has been shown park/ride stations on the outskirts of a larger city catering to suburban motorists serve different
target traffic than traditional downtown stations. It has been proven successful with Route 128 (Westwood), Metropark, New Carrollton and Jersey Avenue.
  by Tadman
 
Red Wing wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:10 pm Connections, connections, connections.
Not anymore. I have firsthand testimony from the manager of a major Amtrak station that the long distance to corridor traffic connections are minimal.
justalurker66 wrote:The Michigan trains do not have long distant versions but they can easily get to CUS.
I dispute that the Michigan trains do, they suffer from one of the most congested mains vis-a-vis NS in Indiana. Nothing that runs through here, Michigan or East Coast, has an easy time. I absolutely ruins timekeeping and thus viability for Detroit trains.
justalurker66 wrote:...are you suggesting the Carbondale trains run in to Milliennium Station? Or a new station at Van Buren St to keep the diesels in open air?not perfect, CUS is workable.
Something of that nature. Either exhaust fans at Millenium or something at Van Buren or Roosevelt. That 30 minute hokey pokey over the river and the backup move is less than third world. You don't even have something that low rent in Argentina.
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Imagine New York before the 1960s: two Manhattan terminals (NYP and NYG) and several terminals on the Hudson waterfront: HOB (Lackawanna), Pavonia (Erie/NYSW), Communipaw (CRRNJ/B&O/RDG), Exchange Place (PRR).
Don't forget Atlantic Avenue!
  by justalurker66
 
Ok. We will build a terminus east of Porter Indiana and let people find their own way into the big city 30 miles away. Problem solved. We will build a terminus at 27th St in Chicago or maybe a little further south (but not too far south unless south of the city limits). Problem solved. If the total time between Homewood and Chicago is longer because we moved the terminus we can blame that on local transportation instead of Amtrak.

Or we can spend that money on Grand Crossing to get the CN-IC trains over to the NS line. It is a roller coaster, but anything to save a few minutes by not using SCAL.

Big picture: Any "fix" will cost money. Building a new station for the CN-IC hosted trains will cost money. Building a better connection instead of a separate terminal will cost money. It seems to be imaginary money - so imagine where that money would be best spent.

What is the solution for the Michigan trains? A Porter terminus won't work so a billion dollars for a dedicated passenger main? Eminent domain running over the NICTD South Shore? A new build ROW somewhere near the lake? A bridge across lake Michigan? A tunnel under Lake Michigan? Teleportation? Magic? The problem there seems to be getting trains over the rails between Porter and Chicago - not where the terminus is located.

We are far beyond the point of reversing the station consolidation that led to CUS being the only LD/regional station in Chicago. The old stations are gone. But since we are in the world of imagination, where would you terminate each line in to the city - if not CUS?
  by justalurker66
 
Multiple terminals works in cities with strong transit connections between the stations. Cities like London that have several stations around the city also have an excellent system connecting those stations. And they have an abundance of trains feeding each of those stations. Few cities in the US need the capacity of multiple regional train stations. There are enough commuter trains to have multiple terminus stations in the larger cities. But not enough regional trains in most places. Certainly not on the level of London.

Transport seems to end at CUS in Chicago. Passengers catch a bus or a cab or walk to their destination (commuters). One has to walk to the nearest CTA Rail station. I don't expect a high number of connections between long distance and regional rail - but having a common terminus provides one place where a local transportation connection is needed. Splitting that in to multiple terminals requires multiple connection points. Connectivity between terminus points helps people get to where they want to be within the city.
  by STrRedWolf
 
I don't look at this as "we need more terminals" but more as "We need more capacity." We need more rail lines to get even our freight to one place to another quickly. We need more tunnels, and more electrification.

And from what I see, CUS and WAS are built to be terminals with a lot of capacity. WAS is near-full (if not already). But it looks like the issue here isn't completely the end points but the journey back and forth.
  by Bob Roberts
 
Gezzus this is a depressing discussion. We talk about South of the Lake here as if it is an impossibly difficult problem to solve, but look at Germany, Belgium or the UK and you will see countries with much less fiscal capacity than the US spending multiple billions on projects to connect or consolidate terminals and build new urban tunnels to enable through running for regional rail (see Berlin Hopbhanhof, Stuttgart 21, Leipzig center city tunnel, Brussels center city tunnel, and Crossrail 1 and 2). Even Buenos Aires is planning a center city RER tunnel network! Meanwhile in our (supposedly) more nimble economic system we can’t even get it together enough to build a new double track ROW through 20 miles of abandoned bownfield space — there are not even any NIMBYs to deal with! At the international scale, tunneling or elevating for a dedicated South of the Lake ROW would be a trivial project. Even the North South link in Boston (for MBTA benefits alone) or the new Hudson tubes (along with a NYP-NYG connection) would have been handled as normal maintenance / capital investment rather than watching politicians debate who pays for what while billions of tons of carbon get added to the atmosphere.

There are certainly many people who will say ‘the current traffic does not justify the cost yada yada” but all of us here know that traffic is low because Passenger rail in the US barely gets enough scraps to keep it running at all, we have decided to kill passenger rail by neglect. Building a dedicated passenger link between Porter and CUS is one of a handful of early projects necessary to make a reasonable intercity rail network viable. If we are at all serious about sustainablility we need to just F’ing build it.

We also need to stop discussing inter city rail in isolation from regional / commuter rail. Both systems use the same terminals, yards and urban tracks. Its ridiculous to view them as separate systems. Through running Meta trains would do a great deal to improve quality of life and the economy of South Chicago — if Leipzig can build a roughly equivalent tunnel just for regional rail, there is no reason Chicago can’t as well.

As an aside, CUS has crappy local transit connections for a city the size of Chicago (yes, I have used the Clinton blue and green line stations, the water taxi is pretty good, but expensive and hard to find and low frequency). This sort of poorly connected terminal is yet another reason why we have such poor ridership.
  by CHTT1
 
Having a single terminal for intercity trains in Chicago seems like a such a slam dunk, that I am surprised that any alternative of having several terminals would even be considered, but this is a board where people seem to enjoy discussing ways to contract an already small passenger train network.
I do agree that CUS is poorly served by public transportation. It's a wonder that the rail transit network was never directly connected to CUS during the hay-day of passenger trains. Only LaSalle Street station had a direction connection to the L. That was mighty poor planning. Maybe Parmalee had a whole lot of political clout back in the day.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 11